Suite for Improvisor and Orchestra

From the composer, Kinan Azmeh:

I have always loved to compose, always loved to play as a soloist with orchestra and I have always loved to improvise, so I decided to write a piece that would allow me to do it all at once!

The three movements: Love on 139th Street in D, November 22nd and Wedding were originally written in 2005 for my project Hewar, an ensemble made of clarinet, oud and voice, and what began simply as three lead-sheets ended up becoming a full orchestral work and my most performed work.

The suite tries to blur the lines between the composed and the improvised, which comes from my belief that some of the best-written music is one that sounds spontaneous and improvised, and some of the best improvisations are the ones that sound structured as if composed. This work is meant to both turn an orchestra into a band and to give a great room for the soloist to improvise
and to “composer on the spot” and to play freely within the larger structure of
the work.

Love on 139th street in D, is inspired by NewYork City’s neighborhood of Harlem where I lived for few years, a simple homage to its cultural mix and a dedication to my downstairs neighbor who blasted reggaetone all day long!

November 22nd is a meditative work that tries to depict that ambiguous emotion one encounters by feeling at home somewhere far from one’s original home. I wrote this piece in the US inspired by the sonic memory of a marketplace that used to exist behind my parents apartment back in Damascus, it seemed to have a slow and steady pulse to it similar to the rhythm of life which keeps moving forward regardless of our emotions about it.

Wedding is made of two contrasting sections, a relatively calm one followed by a fast and energetic dance. It tries to capture the general mood found in a Syrian village wedding party usually held in the public square for everyone to attend. These parties are always exciting and never predictable.

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